Entries Tagged as 'commentary'

a taste of radio makes you hungry for it again

audioconnell radio production studioIn the past when I traveled, I used to bring my portable rig, build a pillow fort, hook everything up and try and make a good recording in a crap environment. For the most part, it worked out OK.

The best result was that it would sound OK. That’s pretty much it.

Folks who don’t travel alot, like I do, think it’s kinda fun to put all that stuff together. After years of doing all that, you find out it’s monotonous. From the actual fort building and jerry-rigging to getting a shot-gun microphone through airport security without TSA pooping their collective pants (reasonably so as a Sennheiser 416 mic looks very suspicious under the x-ray machine) it gets to be a pain.

Bottom line, if I don’t HAVE to bring a travel rig, I won’t.

Instead, I use recording studios in the cities I visit. You meet new people, make new contacts and generally enjoy much better recording conditions. Except for that recording session outside of Dayton, OH that got postponed because there was a drug-related murder that took place across the street just before I was set to arrive.

And by postponed I mean I cancelled it. Just to avoid the possibility of me getting eternally cancelled.

So recent on one of my trips, I was in need of a studio for a rush audition. It was inside a large radio station and being in the station’s production room was like a joyful time warp for me.

From the board to the desk to the Electro-voice RE-20 microphone (the same type I used in the 80’s when I worked in radio) it was a wonderful place to be.

People who used to work in radio (and there are tens of thousands of us) will rightly complain that we were poorly paid, over worked and undervalued. People of work in radio now may say the same thing.

But pay and some lousy bosses (and/or owners) aside, it brings most of us real broadcasters to our happy place. Playing the music, mixing the stop sets, the radio station jingles, banter, callers, on-location events – it was all so fun and yet professional. There were and are many very good people in radio. We were serious about doing a good job, being creative, working to make sponsors happy….it could be a good business to be in.

This isn’t a gauzy, romanticized remembrance for me…radio had many good parts to it.

But by the time I finished with it, the bad parts outweighed the good parts. That’s just how life goes.

I completely understand why people stay in the radio business (even for less than stellar wages) and why even a few of my VO friends have gone back into it.

Being in that radio studio for my recent recording, it was my brief happy place. And all we all want is to be happy.

Proof That Following Your Instincts Can Work

Trust Your Instinct audioconnellOne of the biggest challenges to ANY small business owner (in voiceover or elsewhere) is knowing when to make an important decision.

Sometimes circumstances are clear and the business decision seems easy. Most times it’s not. That’s when business owners need to look at as many facts as possible and make the call, decision time.

Often, when circumstances and facts don’t seem as clear cut, a decision comes down to the business owner’s instincts. Their gut feeling.

So it was some years ago when I was reviewing the voiceover agents I work with.

I had many of them but more than a few were agents in name only. I never saw a lead for a new voiceover job from these few, never got a phone call from these few nor had I had my phone calls to these few returned. Most of my agents did all these things. Not these few.

Looking back it on my emails from these few, it had been multiple years since I received any communication from them. Any. That should have been reason enough.

Yet, I was hesitant…could this hurt my career if I decided to cut ties with these unproductive voiceover agents? Even though it seemed like they were not doing anything on my behalf, that they weren’t responsive to my communication, maybe (I briefly thought) they had a big job in the offing…maybe I should keep them on for just a little while longer.

My gut said no. My instincts told me I had reached out to them enough (and got little to no response) and also that if I met them in person they would not be able to pick me out of an audio or video lineup.

So I sent them a professional letter and advised them their “services” were no longer required.

I hadn’t thought about that time for a while until I received this advisement email from the Lori Lins Ltd. Talent Agency in Milwaukee, one of the few.

It read:

To: Kalah Spaude
Subject: New political commercial demo for Peter O’Connell
Sent: Monday, June 4, 2007 10:21:42 PM (UTC-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada)

was deleted without being read on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 12:13:55 PM (UTC-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada).

I had sent the agency a political voiceover demo in 2007. TWELVE years later, the agency deleted the demo email WITHOUT IT BEING READ.

Now maybe there is a technical reason for this…maybe a legitimate email went into a spam folder or maybe it got rerouted to a computer that went unused and they just cleared the system. Maybe somebody read it and forwarded it on to a technical person to post on a web site who ignored the email – with the person who emailed it not following up.

Or maybe no agent at my agency read the email. Maybe they just ignored it. Based on the service I experienced there (and with the other few), I tend to believe it was the latter.

In my opinion, my gut was right to part ways with this agent (and I cut the cord with them after 2007). This recent email notice was one of those “signs” we get in life. I have little doubt they even noticed my departure.

I’ve been successful without those few, and hopefully they have been successful without me. It’s not personal, it’s strictly business. I bear them no ill will.

But I am reminded by this email notice: go with your gut. Trust your instinct.

Bob Souer’s Go Fund Me Campaign

Voice Talents Peter K OConnell and Bob Souer at a Pittsburgh Pirates game in Pittsburgh, PA

Voice Talents Peter K. O’Connell and Bob Souer at a Pittsburgh Pirates game in 2013

As it does sometimes, life can  hit any of us right in the crotch. It really hurts.

Hard as we try and do the right thing, bad stuff happens…much of it out of our control.

But how we react to these whacks that life doles out is what matters. It’s never easy. Sometimes it makes us stronger. Almost always, it makes us more humble.

I speak from experience. No doubt you can too.

Voice-Over Actors Jill Perry, Pam Tierney, Kara Edwards, Peter K. O'Connell, Caryn Clark, Melissa Exelberth, Bob Souer, Rowell Gorman, Alexander Vishniakoff, Debra Webb, Beth Whistler, Robert John Hughes in Atlanta, GA in 2009

Marice Tobias Workshop, Atlanta, GA, 2009: FRONT ROW: Jill Perry, Pam Tierney, Kara Edwards MIDDLE ROW: Peter K. O’Connell, Caryn Clark, Melissa Exelberth BACK ROW: Bob Souer, Rowell Gorman, Alexander Vishniakoff, Debra Webb, Beth Whistler, Robert John Hughes CUT OFF ONLY DUE TO PHOTOGRAPHER ERROR: Mike Stoudt

This morning, my longtime friend and fellow voice talent Bob Souer did what I imagine to be a very difficult thing. He started a Go Fund Me campaign to help him overcome staggering debt brought on by family medical bills not covered by insurance. His family faced two major medical issues in 2018 (both Bob’s wife and his daughter).

He has publicly asked for our help. I am asking that you financially support his Go Fund Me campaign, as I have.

For the 37+ years I’ve been in voiceover, I would be hard pressed to direct you to another voice talent who has so actively tried to share his time and talent like Bob Souer does. He’s quite a generous man.

Voice Talents Peter K. O'Connell, Kara Edwards, Bob Souer, Charlotte, NC November 2007

Voice Talents Peter K. O’Connell, Kara Edwards & Bob Souer in Charlotte, NC, November 2007

He’s a fairly private fellow too. It could not have been easy to make this public request (it wouldn’t be easy for any of us)…but he did what he had to do after the life whacks his family took in 2018.

Now it’s time for us to share some of our treasure with Bob to help him overcome the crushing medical debt he is saddled with. With all of the voiceover community pitching in, no matter the amount, we can help him become whole again.

With my thanks, I ask that you please donate now.

Movember 2018

Male Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell Movember 2018 Day 1

Male Voice Talent Peter K. O’Connell freshly shaved for first day of Movember 2018

Men don’t like to talk about their health.

Men don’t like to talk about…anything.

And without that communication, problems can arise.

To facilitate that communication and to help raise funds for research and communication programs, I am, for the 8th year, participating in Movember.

With your donations I’ve helped raise over $6,000. Thank you.

I have my health. Others have not been so fortunate. That’s why I participate.

>>>>YOU CAN DONATE TO MOVEMBER BY CLICKING HERE<<<<

MOVemberMovember is where men grow a mustache or in my case a goatee to raise awareness and money for men’s health issues like prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

Prostate Cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among men (after skin cancer). It’s already killing hundreds of thousands of men each year, and those who survive face serious side effects.

Testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in America’s young men. Men with undescended testes at birth, or who have a family history, like a father or brother who has had testicular cancer, are at an increased risk. And if you’ve had testicular cancer before, there’s also a heightened risk it could return.

Around 1 in 4 adults in the United States will experience a mental health problem in a given year. 75% of suicides are men.

Those are real facts. Those are real problems. The fact is we have to deal with those problems. Movember is part of that solution.

Once again, I am teaming with my fellow voiceover talents at MVO: The Voiceover Guys to raise money for Movember. This year Dustin Ebaugh, Mike Cooper and Brandon Pollock are on my team.

If you have any money to contribute, I would greatly appreciate your donation (large or small). Thank you.

now 400 facebook business page likes

Peter K. O'Connell Facebook Business Page Likes 400Not for a moment do I claim to truly understand the analytics of any social media platform. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter et al with their likes and followers are about as deep as I get into it. Whether it’s a science or a sham, I don’t understand most of it, I don’t pretend to nor do I lose sleep over it.

Yet again this morning, however, I was putzing around my Facebook business page in another futile attempt to figure out if I was passing or failing my on-going social media exams. I do this occassionally as some sort of weird self-torture.

When what did my wonder eyes did I see but the number 400 next to ‘business page likes’ (or followers or zombies or something), none of that matters. What matters is that there were 400 of…something interested in what I was saying on my Facebook business page, Peter K. O’Connell – Male Voiceover Talent.

I assume (without any real research, of course) that there are voiceover talents who also have Facebook Business Pages who may have 10 times as many page likes as my 400 that they may have obtained organically or via purchase — and good on them.

Just from a personal stand point, 400 likes seems like A LOT. Call it egotistical or even naive, but it seemed like a nice number and I was weirdly pleased with it.

Alleged Facebook Logos Past and Future

I know enough about social media analytics to understand that likes and followers don’t tell much of the social media effectiveness story unless these followers are ” actively engaged” in the content they are following and that there is indeed quality content to actually follow.

But since starting my  Facebook Business Page back in 841 B.C., I’ve evidently said enough stuff that 400 people enjoyed it enough to like the page. That to me is stunning. It is also worthy of a very humble thank you if you liked my Facebook business page or followed my Twitter page.

Thanks.

‘Oh, and you’ll be our live announcer. Go!’

As you know, with me, there’s always a voiceover story.

Even at a Little League baseball game.

It was last weekend at one of my children’s games…but this was more than a regular game. This was part of a kind of baseball festival at this really nice baseball facility in Cary, NC.

I am not a coach of my son’s team but just one of many Dad helpers there to support the Manager (mostly during practices). This day, the Assistant Coach asked if I would take the team lineup to the facility’s pressroom because as a special part of this big baseball event, the players are introduced over the PA for each game. For the young players, this is a really special treat that does not happen at regular games.

As instructed, I went up to the press room which is on the second floor of this kind of hub structure at this multi-field park that looks a bit like an airport control tower – from the 2nd floor deck you can see all the surrounding fields. I walked in and handed a person our lineup sheet, told them which team it was for and the field we would be playing on so they could do the introductions.

“No, no,” the person said. “You have to come up just before the game starts so you can do the announcing. We have someone from each team do the intros,” the person said.

I took a second to make sure I understood what they just said, as it was a surprise to me.

“Someone from our team does the actual team intros on the PA?” I asked? He confirmed I had heard correctly.

I thought the town would just have an employee do it or hire a radio guy for the weekend. Nope. A parent.

As there were four parents including me helping out on my son’s team and three of them (not me) had jobs on the field during the game, I knew how this story was likely going to end.

I went down to my son’s coaches and I said, “I have good news and bad news. The bad news is they want someone from our team to do the team intros on the PA. The good news is I do live announcing for a living, so if you want, I can do the intros.”

They thought that was a swell idea.

So back up I went to the airport control tower/baseball complex HQ to await my instructions from the Town of Cary employees (all very nice folks).

Things happened pretty quickly once I got back inside.

desk microphoneThe audio setup was very, um, practical. The speakers outside were pretty good. The microphone, inside the fairly large, mostly glass walled room, was a very low end desk mic with a push-to-talk switch….kinda like I used to have on my CB radios in the 70’s.

But it all worked.

My son’s team was the home team, so the parent from the away team did the intro’s for the away team first. I was instructed that, because I went last, my job after I read the coach’s name on our roster, I was to say “Play Ball”.

It was very hard to hear anything going on outside which led me to believe this must have been much more than single-paned glass I was surrounded by. I knew I was going to be louder than the previous parent (or probably most parents announcing during the event). I knew I’d have to back off the mic a bit so I would not sound distorted.

Make it exciting, I thought. Make it memorable, I told myself. Make it sportstacular!

On second thought, I may have been just solely focused on name pronunciations.

In any case, at the last minute I had the good sense to grab my phone to record it. The camera work wasn’t pretty (nor was/is the subject) but the announce went just fine and the kids (and coaches) were thrilled.